Objective: To study the frequency of depression in stroke patients many years following stroke, most previous studies having concentrated on the first few years.
Method: Participants of a previous study of post-stroke depression (99 stroke patients and 28 control subjects) were re-examined 7 years later. Depression was diagnosed using research diagnostic criteria. The test battery comprised the Mini Mental State Examination, the Raven Matrices A+B and Word Pair Learning. Subjective experience of changes in memory, concentration, mood, irritability and fatigue during the 7-year period was also examined.
Results: Twenty per cent of the stroke patients fulfilled the criteria for major or minor depression compared with 11% of the control subjects. No differences in cognitive function were found between depressed and non-depressed stroke patients. The stroke patients reported experiencing more lability of mood and irritability during the 7-year period following stroke than the control subjects. Depressed stroke patients experienced more impairment of concentration and memory function than non-depressed stroke patients.
Conclusion: Affective symptoms are common among stroke patients 7 years following stroke.